Shafia family guilty of 1st-degree murder

Colin MacLean
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KINGSTON, Ont. — Three members of an Afghanistan-born Montreal family have been found guilty of killing three daughters and a co-wife in what the judge describes as “cold-blooded, shameful murders” resulting from a “twisted concept of honour.”

A jury took 15 hours to find Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, 21, each guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in a case so shocking it has riveted Canadians from coast to coast.

Even after the verdict was read, the three denied killing sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, Shafia as well as Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, their father’s childless first wife in a polygamous marriage.

Their bodies were found June 30, 2009, in a car submerged in a canal in Kingston, Ont., in a multiple murder to avenge the family’s outrage because the girls sought teenage freedoms from their controlling father and brother.

As the verdicts were being read, Hamed put his head in his hands and hunched over while standing.

Soon, his mother Tooba started to cry.

When the judge asked if they each wanted to say anything, they one by one declared their innocence.

“We are not criminal, we are not murderer, we didn’t commit the murder and this is unjust,” Mohammad said through a translater.

His wife, Tooba, responded: “Your honourable justice, this is not just. I am not a murderer, and I am a mother, a mother.”

Their son said, in English: “Sir, I did not drown my sisters anywhere.”

But the judge was unmoved, and spoke directly to the cultural cloud that has hung over the case since it began.

“You have each been convicted of the planned and deliberate murder of four members of your family...(A verdict) clearly supported by the evidence presented at this trial,” said Judge Robert Maranger.

“It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime...the apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honour...that has absolutely no place in any civilized society.”

Throughout the judge’s statement, Hamed put his head in his hands, while at one point both his mother and father rubbed his back to console him.

The Crown theory was that Shafia, Yahya and Hamed drowned the four victims elsewhere on the site, placed their bodies in the car, then pushed it into the canal with the family’s other vehicle.

The defence had said it was an accident, that they had gone for a joy ride with Zainab driving and accidentally plunged into the canal with Hamed watching, although he didn’t call police.

Geographic location: Afghanistan, Montreal, Kingston

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Recent comments

  • wayne harvey
    January 31, 2012 - 08:11

    As a creature from whom the milk of human kindness does not flow, I must admit that I care nothing about the fate of the four people who died in the canal as a result of actions taken by their loving , religious family. I am,however, delighted that a strong message has been sent to all fanatics that , in a civilized society, this type of love of God is frowned upon. But, then again, old habits die hard. Wasen't it Jesus, a citizen of this very part of the world, who decried such actions as stoning as a punishment for adultry? I guess female circumcision was not as popular( the clitoris probably not having been discovered in Africa as of yet). But , sure, If you wouldn't stop these for barbouras practices for God, then who would you stop them for?

  • Margie
    January 30, 2012 - 11:12

    Immigrants should appreciate and be thankful that they live in a wonderful nation such as Canada. If they do not want to adapt to our laws, then return to your own countries. Why would you leave your own home country in the first place???

  • Peggy
    January 30, 2012 - 07:36

    When people immigrate to Canada, they have to abide by the laws of their new Country; not expect our rules and regulations to change to accommodate their culture. Immigrants are privileged to be accepted as citizens of such a free nation. Murder is murder, no matter what the reason, but "honor" murders are outrageous and certainly unacceptable.

  • Culturally Sanctioned Violence Against Women
    January 30, 2012 - 06:07

    Let's stop hiding behind the cultural part of this debate. Honor Killings equals Violence Against Women. We do not accept that here, so for those who believe it is acceptable, perhaps they might be happier living somewhere else.

  • Snowbird
    January 30, 2012 - 00:44

    I am so happy with this outcome! No sympathy for these three! Let's send a message that "honour killings" are not acceptable - here or in any authoritarian or totalitarian state!...They're just, so? outdated? And all of that for religion?

    January 29, 2012 - 22:02

    now that they are guilty of murder, where will they serve their sentence ? will it be the big house among the general population or will all those die-heart liberals cry foul and have them serve their sentence at the holiday inn with all the luxeries of home.

  • Duffy
    January 29, 2012 - 19:24

    They come here to Canada and the USA from their 3rd world cesspools to find a better life and then they want to change the ways here to be like where they came from. They want to dress like where they came from, maintain their lanquage, have the same religious off-the-wall rules and traditions, cover their faces and wear towells/rags on their heads. They are welcome but my question is - why did they come here if their country and traditions were so great ?

  • MBC
    January 29, 2012 - 18:27

    In my view, all Canadian will agree with this verdict.